Archive for January, 2011

DB – Entremet

Dear Daring Bakers Powers-That-Be,

This challenge was not my challenge. For the first time I really really tried twice. TWICE! And twice, it got this funktastic uneven cooking leading to brownish swirls all over the joconde imprime. The first time I chalked it up to overcooking, the second time I just figured it was my oven. Even so, next time I’ll definitely be making the sponge cocoa to mask the effect.

Also, filling the actual entremet was quite the challenge. There are so many options! Cake/cookie/brownie layers, mousse, pudding, cream.. Possibilities seemed endless and I’m quite an indecisive person so that was a bit rough.

We should also mention the fact that I have no idea how to judge depth and how much filling will I need to make to fill this big mold?

I get anxious when I don’t have complete control. And I had absolutely no control over this baby.

But in the end, fears gone and caution thrown to the wind, this was a winner. The presentation was quite beautiful despite the outer joconde imprime separating at the seams and raspberry mousse leaking out. And all the work was worth it. Each bite was savored by everyone at the party I brought it to. The rich brownie layer along with the light raspberry and vanilla mousses created this perfect balance of textures and flavors.

So Daring Bakers Powers-That-Be, you did a great job this time, pulling me out of my comfort zone and encouraging me to try something new. It was a challenge but I’m glad I came out the other side still alive with a belly full of entremet.

Till February,

Me

ps. Can you take it a little easier next month? I used a ridiculous number of eggs this month. As in over 18. I lost count. Thanks for your consideration.

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

For the Biscuit Joconde Imprime recipe and technique, check out accro! My layers basically consisted of a brownie base, a raspberry mousse, a round of leftover sponge from the joconde imprime, and all topped with extra vanilla bean mousse.

Chewy Brownies (bottom layer)
adapted from use real butter, originally from Fine Cooking

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • scant 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line pan with parchment paper (or aluminum foil). For the entremet, I baked mine in a round pan to fit my mold. In a stainless steel bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt together the butter and chocolate. Allow to cool slightly then stir in the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until blended. (I used a wooden spoon for this entire recipe because I didn’t feel like breaking out the big guns.) Add in the flour and cocoa. Pour into the prepared pan and bake 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Cool, cut, and eat! (Or stick it into your entremet.)

Raspberry Mousse (middle layer)
adapted from Food & Wine

Ingredients

  • 1 packet (2 tsp) unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 2 10 oz bags frozen raspberries, thawed (or 5 c fresh)
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 c heavy cream, chilled

Instructions
Sprinkle gelatin over the water in a microwaveable bowl and let stand approximately 5 minutes or until softened. Meanwhile, puree approximately 4 c raspberries with 1/2 c sugar. Strain into a bowl. Microwave the gelatin for 10 seconds then whisk it into the strained puree.

In a stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water, whisk the egg whites with 1/4 c sugar until warm to the touch. Remove from heat and using a hand-held mixer, beat the whites until stiff and glossy. Fold into puree.

Using the same bowl, beat chilled heavy cream until firm. Fold into puree.

Mash remaining 1 c raspberries and fold into mousse. Pour into bowls or other serving vehicle and refrigerate at least 1 hour or until set.

Happy Friday, dear readers!

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Vanilla Bean Mousse

On a more serious note..

Today I found out that one of my patients passed away over the weekend.

That’s never happened before.

See, as a medical student, the experience of death and dying is very limited. Odd how it works out that way but let me explain. The sickest patients are monitored in the ICU, or Intensive Care Unit, whether it be Surgical, Medical, Pediatric, or Neonatal. Many of these patients come to the hospital in already critical condition and so are not extensively screened by more people than is necessary and only end up on the normal hospital floors after the crisis has been averted. The patients who are dying but well enough to go home or to another facility are transferred as soon as possible to maximize their time in a comfortable location.

This time, however, a patient had come into my team’s care from an outside hospital. He was sick, quite ill from previous medical conditions, and he had an infection on a prosthetic heart valve that, we eventually figured out, was sending disease all over his already sick body. We tried everything we could. Tried to get him on the appropriate antibiotics to fight the infection, tried to get him surgery to replace the sick valve. But time and his body were working against our medical interventions.

About a week and a half after I took on his case, we had to transfer him to the Medical ICU.

Several days later, the infection was causing a series of complications, occurring too rapidly to tend to one before the next arose and before the team knew it there were too many. Fixing one problem would only make another worse. His life stood at a standstill at the edge of death and then, eventually, it gave up.

Over the course of the couple of weeks I took care of him, I got to know his wife and daughters. It pained me to see him on the day he would eventually expire, his wife exhausted and still crying at his bedside. He knew it was nearly time. I fought back tears as I stood there, silent, because no words could enter my mouth and I don’t think there was anything to say anyhow. It pains me a little bit more now to know that I wasn’t there when the time actually came, though I’m not sure how I would have handled it.

I was in shock as I discovered the news. I sat thinking but again no words came.

This afternoon when I came home, all I wanted was to eat something comforting. Luckily, I had this stored in the fridge.

This mousse is light, airy, and filled with a wonderful vanilla flavor. I made it over the weekend with the vanilla beans my little brother so kindly bought me for Christmas. To complement the flavor I added in just a touch of lemon zest and the mousse transformed into a fresh bite. It’s comforting and reminiscent of summertime which is what we could all use over here on the East Coast. It’s freezing out! If you’re looking for something quick for a dinner party, date night, or just because this is the recipe for you.

Vanilla Bean Mousse
adapted from Sugarlaws

Makes 4-6 servings, depending on size.

Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites, room temperature preferred
  • 2/3 c granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 c heavy whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 tsp grated lemon zest

Instructions
Using a stand, hand, or sheer strength, beat egg whites until foamy. Continuing to beat, slowly begin adding 1/3 c sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks. Set aside.

In a separate bowl (but beaters can be left dirty), whip heavy cream, remaining 1/3 c sugar, seeds scraped out of the vanilla bean, and lemon zest until soft peaks. Err on the side of stiffer here.

Fold together egg and cream mixture. Divide into servings and refrigerate for as long as you can maintain your composure. Sugarlaws recommends at least 6 hours or overnight. I can’t say mine lasted that long.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer today, friends! Happiness on Friday. I promise!

Kisses.

Brown Derby Cake

Brown Derby cake.

This past weekend we celebrated my wonderful mom’s birthday.

If you’ve ever met my brother, you’d know he’s a tough talker. He has a bit of a potty-mouth, he’s extremely smart, and he’s a bit conceited. So overall he sounds like a know-it-all with a smart mouth. He’s also a fourth degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and continues to teach students training to go to national competitions. He can do ridiculous flips and wield a sword. He’s not one to be messed with.

But if you get to know him a little better, he’s not as tough as he seems to be.

After several mishaps and uncertainties with the first cake idea I had, I called him asking for suggestions.

“What kind of cake do you think I should make Mom?”

“Brown Derby” was his immediate response, quickly defended with, “It’s the only cake I know she likes.”

And he was right.

You see, when we were growing up, all of our birthday cakes consisted of a Brown Derby cake created by our local pastry shoppe. I’ve never seen a Brown Derby cake since that time but the thought of it brought back some wonderful memories. So with the help of Google, I came up with a version of our favorite childhood cake that pleased the entire family.

If you’ve never tried one of these babies, it’s essentially a chocolate cake filled with a fruit and whipped cream filling including strawberries, bananas, and peaches (as I remember it). I created mine with a rich devil’s food cake filled with fresh strawberries, fresh ripe bananas, canned peaches, and a handful of blueberries folded into a gelatinous whipped cream mixture (that in hindsight could simply have been the fruit and whipped cream without the extra ingredients/steps). It was a throwback to our childhood and my mom was pleased that we had remembered.

Happy birthday, Mommy!

Brown Derby Cake
cake adapted from Dorie’s Baking From My Home to Yours
filling adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients
For cake:

  • 1 1/3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 c packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 c whole milk, room temperature
  • 1/2 c boiling water
  • 4 oz semisweet or milk chocolate, finely chopped

For filling:

  • 1 package unflavored gelatin (~1 tbsp)
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar, sifted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c heavy whipping cream
  • 12 oz fresh strawberries, sliced thinly
  • 1 15 oz can sliced peaches, drained
  • 2 medium bananas, sliced thinly
  • handful of fresh blueberries

For topping:

  • 1 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 c confectioner’s sugar, sifted (plus more to taste)

Instructions
For cake: Preheat oven to 350F and prepare 1 round cake pan and 1 medium-sized mixing bowl (oven-safe!) with butter and a healthy dusting of flour or confectioner’s sugar. Line the round cake pan with parchment paper as well.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Using a stand or hand mixer, cream butter on medium speed until soft. Add both sugars and continue beating for 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Add vanilla. At this point things may look curdled but keep on beating. On low speed, add melted chocolate. Then add dry ingredients in 3 additions alternating with the milk in 2 additions. Mix just until incorporated. Add in the boiling water which will thin down the luscious batter. Finally, stir in the chopped chocolate with a rubber spatula. Divide the cake evenly between the prepared pan and prepared bowl. Bake separately in the preheated oven. The round cake will take about 25-30 minutes. The bowl took me closer to an hour to set properly. When you insert a knife into the center of the cake, it should come out clean. Allow cake to cool for several minutes before running a knife/spatula around the sides, unmolding, and allowing to cool completely to room temperature.

For filling: (Again, as above, you can simply mix the fruit with whipped cream sweetened slightly with confectioner’s sugar if desired. This recipe gives a bit more solid filling with the addition of gelatin.) Stir gelatin in milk to soften. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until stiff and add the sugar in slowly, mixing to combine. Heat the gelatin and milk mixture over very low heat for several minutes until the gelatin is completely dissolved. With the mixer on, pour the warmed mixture over the egg whites and mix well. Add in vanilla. Cool to warm before folding in prepared fruits.

In a separate bowl, beat heavy cream until stiff peaks (you can use your dirty beaters). Fold in to fruit mixture.

For topping: Beat heavy cream in a clean bowl until stiff peaks. Add sugar to taste.

For assembly: Once cakes are cooled, level both cakes, reserving scraps (take a bit off even if your cakes came our perfectly which mine never ever do). Take round cake and place on stand. Top with as much filling as desired. (I only did one big fat layer of filling and used about 3/4 of it. In hindsight, you can cut the cake baked in the bowl into two layers and then have two layers of filling with three layers of cake. Just saying.) Top with cake baked in the bowl. Using a spatula, spread sweetened whipped topping all over cake. Finally, crumble scraps and press into whipped topping. If your scraps a little too moist, you can spread them over a baking sheet and dry them out a bit in a warmed oven.

Messy cakes are always the most delicious in my opinion!

What cake did you used to eat growing up?

Lace Cookie Cannolis

January is kicking my butt.

I’m sleep-deprived, gym-deprived, friend-and-family-time-deprived, and generally life-deprived. It took some planning, brainstorming, and baking at random hours of the night, but I managed to eek out some delicious baked goods this past week and can’t wait to share them with you.

But first, the new feature!

This Week I Ate

  • Annie’s Zuppa Tuscana. This soup was easy enough for a weeknight dinner but was extremely filling and satisfying. The kick of cayenne was a perfect complement to the creamy base and the hearty kale. It looks like a thick heavy soup but it’s mainly stock and white wine based which definitely offers comfort without making you hit food coma right afterward. Loved it!
  • Trader Joe’s Stuffed Pork Loin with Spinach (and some cheese.. I think feta but I don’t remember). Boy made this. Just as a side, when Boy makes dinner it’s either one of two things at all times. 1: Trader Joe’s, or 2: pasta with doctored up jarred sauce. He’s gotten pretty good at doctoring things up adding fresh veggies, herbs (we owned a basil plant for awhile until he let it die), or even white wine. This pork loin was quite delicious too. I heart Trader Joe’s.
  • and a whole lot of hospital cafeteria food. Such is my life.

Ever since I came up with the resolution to create a new recipe each month I’ve been brainstorming ideas. The goal of the resolution was to start learning how to make other baked goodies besides cupcakes which, up until now, has really been the only branch of baking I’ve felt comfortable tinkering around with. So this month I didn’t set any limits on myself. I set out to find inspiration.

On my interview trail (what we call the interview season between November and January when most residency programs hold their interviews), I began to treat myself to a baked good while traveling back home. After a long day of interviewing (our days usually go from 7.30 or 8am until 2 or 3 pm), the only redeeming part of the day would be finding a nearby bakery and finding something wonderful to nosh on.

One particular interview in the Bronx brought me to Conti’s, home of a wonderful cannoli I just couldn’t turn down.

And because we’re meant to be together, literally the next day Boy and I were discussing what I could make and he suggested something to do with cannolis.

Mind you, we are not exactly an Italian, cannoli-eating couple.

So then it had to be done.

It’s not exactly a completely original recipe but the idea is all mine. Baby steps, people!

The crunchy, slightly nutty lace cookies are a perfect complement to the ricotta cannoli cream dotted with chocolate shavings. Sometimes I find cannoli shells a bit too sweet for my taste but these flavors worked really well together. For a nice dinner, you can make napoleons or for something a little more casual you can form the lace cookies into taco shapes and make little cannoli tacos!

I’m quite proud.

 

Lace Cookie Cannolis
a STO original of sorts

Ingredients
For lace cookie
(adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod, originally from Essence of Chocolate):

  • 1/2 c all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 c unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For cannoli cream (STO original):

  • 3/4 c ricotta, full-fat preferred
  • 1/2 c confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 1/4 c heavy cream
  • 1 oz semisweet chocolate, shaved

Instructions
For cookies: Preheat oven to 375F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, salt, and oats in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Using a stand or hand mixer, mix together butter, cream, corn syrup, and vanilla. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix.

Drop 3/4 tsp of batter onto baking sheets leaving 2 inches all around each cookie as they spread in the oven. Bake 7-9 minutes or until golden. If molding into taco shapes, balance a wooden spoon atop 2 glasses turned upside-down. Once cookies come out of the oven, while they’re still warm, carefully drape over the wooden spoon handle into a taco shape and allow to cool in that position. Otherwise, allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for about 2 minutes before transferring to a rack.

For cream: Fold together ricotta, confectioner’s sugar, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whip heavy cream to stiff peaks. Then fold heavy cream into ricotta mixture. Finish by folding in shaved chocolate.

For assembly: For napoleons, layer 3 same-sized cookies with 2 dollops of cannoli cream. Top with extra cream.

Is your January out of control?

 

Homemade Oreos

I’m starting a new feature on my blog called This Week I Ate…

With the new year and my impending first salaried position coming this July, I’ve decided that now more than ever I need to put myself on a budget and cook more meals. I used to cook quite a bit in my first two years of med school but long hours in the hospital during third year definitely lent itself to eating out a lot more and sometimes just going to bed without eating, too tired to put in the effort.

But I’m turning a new leaf! And to keep me somewhat accountable, I’m going to document the things I make here. However, since this was never meant to be a blog about what I had for dinner, I often don’t have the patience to photograph hot food before I dig in, and I currently don’t have much of a desire to start making up my own recipes in that field, this will just be a side project. More of a bullet point list with a small review.

Like this!

This Week I Ate…

  • Xiaolu’s Boy-Approved Spiked Pasta (Spaghetti with Vodka Cream Sauce). It was certainly Boy-approved on my end as well. I used ground cayenne pepper instead of the crushed which gave a lot of kick but to quote Boy, “I think cayenne is your secret ingredient. You can make everything taste good with it!” And I agree. (So do the Neely’s if you ever watch them or make their stuff.) The sauce was easy for a weeknight meal and I had everything on hand already! Also, since med school started I’ve seriously lost my ability to imbibe so there’s a lot of vodka in this place that is taking a very long time to consume.
  • Sara’s Baked Fish Sticks with Tartar Sauce. One of my few attempts at making seafood (it scares me for some reason?). I’ve made these before and while the fish sticks are great and healthy and you should probably make these for that reason alone, the real star here in my opinion is the tartar sauce. Boy agrees. We could dip anything into that sauce and it’d be delicious.

Okay. Onto the recipe. I’ve made these Oreos three times now (2 of those time in my preblogging days) and they never ever disappoint. How could they? They’re OREOS for crying out loud. It’s no secret I’m a fan as evidenced by these, this, and these. But making them from scratch just adds that extra element of love and handmade kitsch that elevate these to a whole new level. The filling tastes nearly identical to the store-bought brand and the wafers are not overpowering in sweetness. I’m in love.

Homemade Oreos
adapted from smitten kitchen, originally from Retro Desserts

Makes 25-30 sandwich cookies.

Ingredients

For wafers:

  • 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg

For filling:

  • 1/4 c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 c vegetable shortening
  • 2 c sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
For wafers: Preheat oven to 375F and prepare line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a food processor or with an electric mixer, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing or on low speed, add in the butter and egg until the dough comes together in a mass. Place rounded teaspoonfuls of batter onto prepared sheets about 2 inches apart. With moist hands, gently press down on dough to flatten tops slightly. Bake for approximately 9 minutes, rotating once. Let sheets cool on racks.

For filling: Cream together butter and shortening using a stand or hand mixer. Then slowly add in the sugar and vanilla extract. When combined, beat on high for another 2-3 minutes or until fluffy.

To assemble: Find two cookies similar in size. Pipe or spread about 1 tsp of filling onto the bottom of one cookie. Create a sandwich by pressing the bottom of the other cookie into the filling, gently working the filling to the edges of the cookies. Voila!

Have you recreated any childhood favorites lately?

Dorie’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

How is everyone’s 2011 going so far?

I imagine most of you, like me, headed back into the daily grind after the excitement and days off for and during the holiday season. This morning was not pretty, friends. Not at all. I had to hastily eat a bowl of cereal while warming up my car for not nearly enough time because I slept in a little too long. And, friends, my stomach is not yet back into the zone of not having food readily available at a moment’s notice. So I spent much of the morning (and afternoon) hungry while chasing after my residents and trying to meet and understand all of my new patients.

I told you. Not pretty.

But things are looking up since these cookies were waiting for me when I got home.

There was absolutely, positively NO way I was starting off the year without chocolate chip cookies. I believe it’s the only way to get things moving on the right foot. Don’t you? And who better to turn to for a cookie recipe you can count on besides Dorie Greenspan? No one. Essentially, making these cookies was a no-brainer. Another plus? The dough doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It always bothers me when I have to refrigerate cookie dough. I can almost taste them in my mouth.. and then I have to wait an hour before that actually happens. Such a tease. Especially if you sneakily ate some of the dough and can already tell it’ll rock your world. I know I’m not the only one who does this.

Can I get an AMEN?!

Chocolate chip cookies. Doing favors to slightly cranky Monday work-goers all over the world.

 

Dorie’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Baking from My Home to Yours

Makes 40-45 cookies.

Ingredients

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2/3 c packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 c bittersweet chocolate chips (or 12 oz chocolate chopped into chips)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 375F and line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter for about 1 minute or medium speed until smooth. Add sugars and beat another 2 minutes. Add in vanilla followed by the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in thirds, mixing just until combined before adding another third. Add in the chocolate. At this point you can also add in 1 c finely chopped walnuts or pecans but I don’t like nuts in my chocolate chip cookies so I omitted this step.

Spoon tablespoonfuls of dough onto prepared sheets. Leave about 2 inches around each cookie. Bake 10-12 minutes or until the edges are browned (rotate pan halfway through). Allow to cool for 1 minute on the pan before transferring to a rack.

What’s the first thing you made in 2011?